The Casting Game (feature film) by Joy Hopwood

The Casting Game poster sml

The Casting Game is an ensemble piece that highlights the journeys of a group of unconventional actors trying to make it big in Sydney, an Asian-Australian family trying to make a visiting relative feel at home with Might- T- mite and meat pies, and a seemingly ill-fated love.

Gary is a 35-year-old brick layer who has had no luck in love. On a night out with his high school mates – Lynn, Indigo, and Luke – he ends up in a bet to see if he can land a date with the next woman he sees. Along comes Sarah, a beautiful radio producer who is in a wheelchair.

Stacey Copas by Cassie Bedford sml

In a Love Actually meets Muriel’s Wedding in a modern day twist, this film explores what it means to find happiness and joy in a diverse, dynamic world, in a beautifully fun and meaningful way.

An Aussie story full of heart and triumph amongst a diverse group of friends, The Casting Game is a relatable story that tugs at our heartstrings while making us laugh. It reminds us that we can find belonging in unexpected places.

The Casting Game with director Pearl Tan sml

Writer / producer, Joy Hopwood, wrote the screenplay just under two weeks after watching an Australian film last September in 2016 and was inspired to write something just as good with diversity at the forefront!

“In our current modern society, I feel that it’s driven by ego, self importance and over evaluation, this film takes us on a journey and reminds us, in a subtle way, what it’s like to step in other people’s shoes from all walks of life and to be mindful of others. I feel that’s what our society is missing – mindfulness and humility. My aim is to entertain people yet bringing that sense of community back into our society, which I feel is desperately missing,” says Joy.

Stacey Copas & Cast at Christmas pre show

Leading lady, Stacey Copas says, “when Joy asked me to act in her film at our first meeting together I couldn’t believe what an amazing an opportunity it was and I pretty much jumped at the opportunity right away! I’m passionate about everyone getting an equal opportunity and I’m so inspired by Joy and the whole team who have poured blood, sweat and tears into getting the project off the ground. Our camaraderie and joint purpose on set can definitely been seen in the final edit. I’m really proud of the Casting Game; its beautifully told story which everyone will be able to relate to.”

Erica Long and puppets sml

Supporting actress Erica Long says, “During my script read, I found that with every page I turned, I became more and more immersed in the characters’ lives. The characters are all so different (in terms of their personality, ethnicity and personal background) and I loved reading about how they interacted with each other – it’s not everyday that you read a script, which reflects our multicultural society. There’s also so much warmth and hilarity in the script – I knew instantly that I wanted to be a part of the transformation from paper to screen. Pearl Tan (director) and Joy Hopwood (producer, writer and actor) are champions of diversity in this country and you really see this come across in The Casting Game. Joy specifically incorporated into her script a group of friends from different ethnic backgrounds, an intelligent and beautiful woman with a mobility disability, 2 Australian-Chinese sisters (who are more Aussie than Chinese!) and their long lost sister from China. It’s quite a feat! The different characters’ backgrounds of course contribute to the story but the characters are not reduced to a stereotype (e.g. your Asian nerd). During rehearsals we created each character’s own backstory and Joy was happy to make our suggested script changes to ensure that we were each happy with the complexity of our characters. When you watch the film, you will see that Joy has weaved a series of funny and nuanced stories together into a coherent whole and, simply put, you will forget about “diversity” as such – the end result of Joy’s hard work is that you just focus on how the characters interact with each other.”

Nicholas Brown sml on set - The Casting Game. Photo by Cassie Bedford

When asked, “Why did you want to act in The Casting Game?” Supporting actor Nicholas Brown says, “I’ve been a fan of Joy Hopwood and Pearl Tan for a long time. I met Joy several years ago when we both made speeches for the Asian Alliance for parliament We both found a synergy because of our experiences as non Caucasian actors in Australia. Pearl and I have written and worked together for several years. I’m inspired by both of these amazing women, their advocacy and their creativity. Besides fluffing I’d do anything on film for them! Plus it’s rare to see a cast so diverse in Aussie cinema. The fact that there’s no major reference to anyone’s ethnicity is refreshing. The cast are all Australian who just happen to be from diverse backgrounds. My character is a brickie! I love that. The actors have been cast against type and this is exciting and rare.”

The Casting Game, written & produced by Joy Hopwood (Joy House Productions) and produced by Priya Roy (Vissi D’Arte Films) and directed by Pearl Tan (Pearly Productions) premieres at the annual Joy House Film Festival September 10th, 2017. 4.30pm at Hoyts https://Joyhousefilmfestival.eventbrite.com.au

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Interview with Stacey Copas about her latest film and diversity.

 

stacey 1

How did your acting career begin?

I’m currently in the midst of my first acting gig – a totally newbie to the world of acting. I’m playing the role of Sarah in the feature film “The Casting Game”. I was initially approached to consider the role via a LinkedIn message which was totally unexpected.

Who were your role models growing up?

As a young person I was mostly drawn to athletes and musicians – neither of which I actually aspired to be. There certainly weren’t any diverse role models who represented my own diversity in any area of public life I was aware of.

Stacey 2

Do you think there are enough diverse representations on TV / Film?

There is a lack of diversity in TV and film. Who we see on screens does not represent who we see in the community in our daily life. I feel having roles written that are specifically for diverse characters will help to improve this. Also having viewers support TV and film with diverse characters/casting and demand more diversity will help.

What are you currently working on?

Currently preparing for the feature film “The Casting Game” in which I play the lead role of Sarah. It is exciting to be part of a project that has a very diverse cast and crew. As a person who uses a wheelchair it is fabulous to be cast in the role as the majority of characters with disability in TV and film are played by actors without disability.

Stacey Copas high res headshot (1)

What more do you want to achieve in your career?

Being such early days, I’m looking forward to exploring a variety of roles that will challenge me and tell great stories.

Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years time and why?

In 10 years time I would like to be continuing to stretch my comfort zones in all areas of life. By being the best person, speaker, athlete – and actor I can be I hope to inspire others to aim higher and dream bigger and to be the person with a disability with a strong public profile who can be the role model that I lacked as a young person.

Q and A with Indira Naidoo – The Edible City

Indira Naidoo is a renowned journalist, best known as SBS News host. In 2006 she became media manager and spokeswoman for Choice magazine and then in 2009 was one of 261 candidates selected to be trained in Melbourne by former US Vice President Al Gore to conduct regular presentations about the impacts of anthropogenic climate change. Her first book, The Edible Balcony, was an instant best seller. Yesterday, Indira launched her second book, The Edible City at the Sydney School of Mechanics. I had the pleasure of interviewing her today for my blog.

Indira 2 sml

The transition from media into environmental activism was an easy one for Indira, because she often reported on issues such as the environment, sustainability and climate change-issues she was passionate about. When working at Choice, rain water tanks were illegal at the time, but today, they’re all part of ‘every day living’ and ‘sustainability.’ It all started when a market farmer gave Indira a tomato to taste, and when she bit into it, she was in heaven. “It was the best tomato I’ve ever tasted,” Indira said. This inspired her to transform her 20 metres balcony to an edible garden consisting of fruit, vegetables and herbs. David Wenham approached her after buying her first book The Edible Balcony to become the Wayside Chapel Ambassador, because her book inspired him to transform his small balcony to an edible garden.

Indira 1 sml

Indira helped transform The Wayside Chapel‘s rooftop to an edible garden. And in July 2015 they installed a bee hive in the corner of the garden, so they now have delicious honey. There are horticulture / garden volunteers who help daily and homeless people too. Jon, a gardener there says, “Our garden is a constant reminder that we live in a community, not an economy.” The Wayside chapel’s garden help feed the homeless and gives a constant supply of nutritious and tasty food to their wonderful cafe too. Even Kylie Kwong’s restaurant Billy Kwong even uses the Wayside Chapel’s honey in their pork buns.  The Wayside Chapel cafe is open to the public weekdays. At Christmas (2015), 600 homeless people came to the Wayside Chapel’s Christmas lunch and most of the food was produced by their own edible garden!

The Edible city

Today, Indira spreads her message of sustainability to schools, corporate businesses, councils and governments, not only in Australia but overseas too, (e.g. New York) “making urban spaces liveable” is a passionate mission of hers. I had the pleasure of interviewing Indira for my blog.

What gives you joy now in your life these days?

“Probably things to do with growing, gardens and food I guess and friends and family to share it with. Food is about as intimate as our connection with nature gets, putting it our mouths. The intimacy that comes from gardens and food.”

Who were your role models growing up?

“I’ve got lots of areas of interest – political leaders, presidents and prime ministers and political activists. From Nelson Mandela, Dalai Lama, Indira Gandhi, JFK, David Attenborough, Gough Whitlam.”

What are your views on diversity now in Australian film, television and in the media? Do you think it’s getting better?

“I think in the last fifteen years we gained a lot of ground in the 70’s and early eighties and late nineties and in the new century it’s been wound back. A lot about how we value diversity and multiculturalism, generally in our community and in the arts I’d say it’s not looking as rosy as the path we were on about 15 years ago and a lot of that has to do with the political leadership of the country which hasn’t sold the value of diversity. And so a lot of it comes connected to that, whether it’s arts bodies, theatre groups and television shows, it all flows on from the prime ministers of our time and how much they value diversity, so I think we’ve gone back a little bit in the last fifteen years.”

Screen shot 2016-02-03 at 5.24.40 PM.png

In your latest book, Jon said, “Our garden is a constant reminder that we live in a community, not an economy,” do you think our society is slowly becoming to value the importance of community or our economy these days?

“We just have to look at the news each night, how it covers stories like finances, houses and properties and how it talks about the economy and not much about this poor old lady across the road. There isn’t a lot of regard paid to the value of community, there’s a lot of emphasis on the economy and growing wealth, money and finances, so I think we’ve lost the balance, we’re out of balance at the moment and we need to go back to value the community.”

What would you like people to take away after reading The Edible City? And what would your legacy be?

“If I can just open people up to look at their living spaces in a different way and then they can bring more nature into the city and their lives and engage them to grow their own food, like lettuces, as there’s a real joy attached to that. It’s a lot of fun. Once you grow that seed and watch that seed germinate and then see the fruit and being able to eat what you grow, is just such a wonderful, joyous connection to nature and our environment. It’s just so tasty and delicious. Once you start that journey, you’ll never look back, bringing more nature and green into our cities it can only be better for our quality of life and overall happiness.”

What an inspiring woman Indira Naidoo is! The Edible City is now available at all good bookstores and The Wayside Chapel (The Wayside Chapel 29 Hughes Street, Potts Point, 2011. Phone: 02 9581 9100) has a tour coming up at the end of February 2016. The Wayside Café is open Mon – Fri 9am-7.30pm Sat 9am – 4:30pm Sun 12pm – 4:30pm. I’ll see you there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas joy 2015 (plus foodies & creative ideas)

Christmas is coming up shortly and it’s that time of the year where I reflect the year – 2015

Every year I write a list of things I’m grateful for.

Family and Friends – during the good times and the bad times, you always know who your true friends are for the most challenging times of your life. My late mother always said, “There’s always someone in the world worse off than you, so don’t feel sorry for yourself.”

 

puppets  kids

I’m proud that I’ve been able to bring The Wong Side of Life’s Kindness is for Free into schools – an anti-racism & and anti-bullying initiative. We’ve been able to add role playing (drama) by using my puppets so children experience what it’s like to be “the bully” and “the bullied,” as well as making popsicle puppets as part of a creative craft activity.

 

image

We also had a great Joy House Film Festival year, with the most entries received and audience thus far. I look forward to spread the joy each year by showcasing emerging filmmakers’ short film and giving prizes for not only best film, but also best youth and diversity short film. This is proudly supported by MEAA’s Diversity Committee. It’s a free yearly public event. Thank you to our sponsors – Media Super, Hoyts and Bendigo Bank (Willoughby North).

Screen shot 2015-12-15 at 5.25.42 PM

Screen shot 2015-11-30 at 1.07.55 PM

I love giving talks and was lucky to do so for Laneway Learning this year – a great crowd and AAFFN panel in Melbourne.

Screen shot 2015-12-15 at 5.28.23 PM

Christmas is also a difficult time for people, especially those in hospital. Every year I like to donate my Fairy Joy books to my local children’s hospital. To be able to give is most rewarding feeling.

FJ         FJ2

I hope you’ll be able to pay it forward, give joy, be loyal to your family & friends. Being grateful, ethical and giving is good for the soul – it’s a way of living a joyful life!

Screen shot 2015-12-16 at 5.10.44 PM

Blessings to you and may 2016 be awesome for all.

Here are some creative foodies, craft & art ideas you can make and share for Christmas. Spread the joy!

* CREATIVE FOODIES IDEAS *

straw

Found on welke.nl

 

riley

 

http://www.rileyrecipeblog.blogspot.com

w

 blogs.lasoo.com.au

f

lovethispic.com

CREATIVE CHRISTMAS CRAFT IDEAS

Christmas tree hands – I did this in my creative lesson with the school kids- they loved it!

hands 

Christmas tree reindeer made from pegs – made by my next door neighbour’s son.

image

 

Reindeer egg cartoon head

crafty 

Found on craftymorning.com

Thumb print reindeers

f 

Found on flickr.com

 

CREDITS:

Moje Wypieki, indulgy.com, http://www.lovethispic.com/image/48714/diy-food-christmas-trees,

chickabug.com, http://rileyrecipeblog.blogspot.com.au/ ,  Newfoundland Memories Of Home’s Page ,

http://www.lovethispic.com/image/42356/christmas-santa-strawberries, http://blogs.lasoo.com.au/tag/christmas-

tree/, http://www.etsy.com/, http://craftori.com/, http://etsylush.com/, https://fbcdn-sphotos-g-

a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/227961_429493270441099_640727145_n.jpg,

 

 

My Melbourne Trip (AAFFN)

On Saturday 28th November 2015, I flew to Melbourne to be part of AAFFN’s panel and spoke about diversity in the arts and curation of content for the Joy House Film Festival. The event started by showcasing a selection of films that were chosen from Singapore Festival, Persian Film Festival and The Joy House Film Festival. The event was chaired by Amadeo Marquez Perez. The other guest panelists included: Sukhmani Khorana, Kevin Bathman (Carnival of the Bold) and Sanaz Fotouhi (Persian Film Festival).

Screen shot 2015-11-30 at 1.07.55 PM.png

Photo by Mayu Kanamori

We all spoke about the importance of showcasing content that is relevant and reflective of the society in which we live in today. Kevin Bathman spoke on how Carnival of the Bold focuses on emerging talent and Sanaz Fotouhi spoke on how they sometimes bring in big name artists, because they bring in an audience for the Persian Film Festival. Sukhmani Khorana spoke about the importance of being true to your audience and showing integrity on choice of content. I spoke about the importance of “story” when curating short films of joy and diversity, despite having “famous” filmmakers submitting to the Joy House Film Festival, I always go with the filmmaker who told their story well.

Afterwards we had a wonderful Q & A session followed by lunch. It was great to socialise with other people with the same passion for story telling and films as myself. Thank you to AAFFN for putting on such a successful event.

__________________________________________________

Even though my trip to Melbourne was short, I throughly enjoyed seeing the popular tourist sites.

I hopped on a tram which took me around Melbourne City.

Screen shot 2015-11-30 at 1.27.13 PM.png

I went to the Queen Victoria Markets and enjoyed all the foodie treats.

Screen shot 2015-11-30 at 1.29.21 PM

Screen shot 2015-11-30 at 1.30.47 PM

The Melbourne State library

Screen shot 2015-11-30 at 1.32.12 PM

The Wheeler Centre (they just so happened to have an event chaired by Benjamin Law – Is Australia Racist?)

Screen shot 2015-11-30 at 1.33.56 PM.png

Melbourne City

Screen shot 2015-11-30 at 1.35.03 PM

 

 

 

The Joy House Film Festival 2015

The third Joy House Film Festival was on Sunday the 13th September 2015.

All the guests were delighted to receive a free showbag full of goodies on

arrival. A great variety of films were selected in the programme.

(They included animation, chick flick, stopmotion animation, drama,

documentary, comedy, music video) with the main theme of JOY & diversity.

The best 15 short films were selected out of 96 entries. The judges included

The Mayor and renowned actress Menik Gooneratne.

image

THE WINNERS LIST

The Present (animation) won this year’s Media Super’s Best Short Film.

Directors Jacob Frey .Writers Jacob Frey, Fabio Coala

Producers Anna MataczJacob Frey) Germany

Screen shot 2015-09-12 at 1.37.56 PM

BENDIGO BANK’S BEST YOUTH FILM winner went to Marriage Equality

AUS (YOUTH entry- animation. Written / Directed / Produced and narrated

by Josh Lorschy)

Screen shot 2015-09-12 at 1.42.38 PM

BENDIGO BANK’S BEST SCHOOL KIDS’ WORKSHOP – claymation went to

The Perfect Pasta. (Written, Produced and Directed by Scott Petersen)

Scottie Petersen 1

HOYTS PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD winner was Silence is Golden.

(Writer / Director / Producer: Katharine Rogers) Australia.

Screen shot 2015-09-12 at 1.31.52 PM

NORTH SHORE DRAMA’S BEST DIVERSITY was Game On

(Written, Directed and Produced by Jennie Crystle) US

Game On

                                      FINALISTS

  1. Top Delight (Written, Directed and Produced by Hayley Warnock) Aus

Screen shot 2015-09-12 at 11.17.05 AM

2. Game On (Written, Directed and Produced by Jennie Crystle) US

Game On

3. Oh Whale (Director & Writer: Joana Locher. Producer Gerd Gockell) Switzerland

Screen shot 2015-09-12 at 11.32.57 AM

4. Clean Restart (Writer & Director: Liliana Braumberger. Producer: Libby Porter) Australia

Screen shot 2015-09-12 at 1.09.51 PM

5. A Joyful Dream (claymation) – Children’s workshop entry. (Produced by James and Sophia Wong.

Written & Directed by Sophia Wong) Australia.

Sophia

6.  Paths We Walk (documentary) – (Directors & Producers: Scott Granville, Ben Woollen. Writer: Scott Granville) New Zealand.

Screen shot 2015-09-12 at 1.15.58 PM

7. Aunt Marulan (animation) (Director / Writer / Producer: Michelle Lia) Australia.

Screen shot 2015-09-12 at 1.20.42 PM

8.  Mop Head (Producer & Director: David Gannon. Writers: Carl J. Sorheim with David Gannon, Nathan Strauss and Troy Larkin) Australia.

Screen shot 2015-09-12 at 1.23.12 PM

9. The Perfect Pasta. SCHOOL KIDS’ WORKSHOP – claymation. (Written, Produced and Directed by Scott Petersen

Scottie Petersen 1

10. Flowers. (Director and Writer: Sabina Sattar. Producer: Sabina Sattar & Monika Kocian) U.K.

Screen shot 2015-09-12 at 1.26.26 PM

11. Homeless Joe (stop motion animation) Writer / Producer / Director: Linda Niksic) Australia

Screen shot 2015-09-12 at 1.28.33 PM12. Rusty (SCHOOL KIDS WORKSHOP entry – claymation. Writer / Producer / Director: Caleb Allen) Australia.

Caleb Allen

13. Marriage Equality AUS (YOUTH entry- animation. Written / Directed / Produced and narrated by Josh Lorschy)

Screen shot 2015-09-12 at 1.42.38 PM

14. Silence is Golden. (Writer / Director / Producer: Katharine Rogers) Australia.

Screen shot 2015-09-12 at 1.31.52 PM

15. Future Dreamer (Music Video) (Director / Writer / Producer – Kaya Finlayson) Australia.

Screen shot 2015-09-12 at 1.33.56 PM

16. Dad in Mum (French Short Film with subtitles) (Writer / Producer / Director: Fabrice Bracq) France.

Screen shot 2015-09-12 at 1.35.50 PM

17. The Present (animation) Directors Jacob Frey .Writers Jacob Frey, Fabio Coala Producers Anna MataczJacob Frey) Germany

Screen shot 2015-09-12 at 1.37.56 PM

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO CAME & to our sponsors.

The Crowd at JHFF 2015

Hoyts logo jpeg

Bendigo bank logo

North Shore Drama

MediaSuper logo _IFS_cmyk (2)

Q and A interview with writer Benjamin Law about Diversity

Benjamin Law and Joy

Benjamin Law is a Sydney-based journalist, columnist and screenwriter, and has completed a PhD in television writing and cultural studies. He’s also member of M.E.A.A. as a freelance writer.

Benjamin is the author of two books—The Family Law (2010) and Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East (2012)—and the co-author of the comedy book Shit Asian Mothers Say (2014) with his sister Michelle and illustrator Oslo Davis. Both of his books have been nominated for Australian Book Industry Awards.

Benjamin is also a frequent contributor to Good Weekend (The Sydney Morning Herald/The Age).

*

books B

What made you want to write your story – The Family Law?
I’d been writing personal columns for frankie for a while, and I noticed the ones that made reference to my family – especially my mum – got a great response. Which isn’t surprising, really – my mum is pretty hilarious, unique and baffling, in the way that only mothers can be. And after I wrote longer pieces for an anthology called Growing Up Asian in Australia, my now-editor approached me, asking if I had a book up my sleeve. Part of what motivated me to write The Family Law was this idea of writing a book I wish I’d read as a teenager. One with a hilariously dysfunctional Chinese-Australian family.

 

10418482_10152856164280450_6784318387033776800_n

*

After writing your story, what steps did you take in order to get your story / screenplay seen by a network or producer?

I didn’t actually seek out screen options myself. I think my publisher would’ve had chats with production companies, and the book was also on people’s radars after a certain point. But when I heard Matchbox Pictures and Tony Ayres – whose work I’d admired for years before we even met  – were interested, I knew they were the ones for me. 
*

Your screenplay will obviously open doors for diversity…however will your screenplay also be open for “colourblind casting?” 

I’m only on the show as a writer, so I don’t get to call those shots.
Benjamin Law photo 1
*
Can you reveal how many roles will be Asian? 
What I can say is that roughly 90% of the cast is explicitly written as Chinese-Australian, so we’ll need the majority of actors to have Asian faces. There are a handful of other roles which are specifically for Eurasian actors, and some roles are definitely white. As for the other roles, I reckon that can and should go to as many different actors as possible!

 

*

When you were growing up in Australia, who were your role models on television and / or film and why? 

 
There weren’t a huge number of Asian faces on telly when I was growing up. My family and I used to point at the TV and scream in excitement if there was an Asian on TV: “THERE’S AN ASIAN ON THE TEEEE-VEEEEEEEE!” But there was definitely celebrity chef Elizabeth Chong, on Good Morning Australia, and Dr Cindy Pan on sex/life, and I remember seeing Clara Law’s beautiful feature Floating Life, which affected me a lot. But I’d usually look overseas for Asian representation on screen. I mean, I watched The Joy Luck Club A LOT. But it’s getting better nowadays, and reality TV has done heaps to reflect how diverse Australia actually is. You see a lot more Asian-Australians in local comedies and dramas, but not nearly enough.
*
 Screen shot 2014-11-30 at 11.21.31 AM
 *
What are you looking forward to in the future on Australian television?
I’m really looking forward to Lawrence Leung’s kung-fu comedy Maximum Choppage on ABC2 next year.
*
                                                                           
Ben 2
 *